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This Puppy Was Minutes Away From Being Euthanized. Then A Rescuer Saw Her Legs And Told Them To Stop

Image: YouTube/The Dodo
The vet decided that it would be in the little pup’s best interests to put her to sleep. The poor thing was spread out on the floor and couldn’t even walk, so what future could she have? But before the doctor had the chance to lower their needle, someone caused them to falter.
Image: YouTube/The Dodo
The puppy in question is called Starfish, but she wasn’t given that name at birth. In fact, when she first came into the world, it didn’t seem like anyone cared for her at all. Starfish’s previous owner had actually left her alone to fend for herself.
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Image: YouTube/The Dodo
They had dumped her on a beach, with only a cardboard box as shelter. To make matters worse, Starfish suffered from a disability, which is perhaps the reason her owner left her. She was sprawled out and unable to get to her feet.
Image: YouTube/The Dodo
The way the pup’s limbs were splayed was the inspiration behind naming her Starfish. When rescuers found her, the tyke was just ten weeks old. Fortunately, Starfish ended up in the California-based non-profit Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS).
Image: YouTube/The Dodo
When veterinarians first assessed Starfish, their initial impression wasn’t good. Not only was the pup unable to walk, but she had internal problems, too. To put it plainly, her organs were squashed. As a result, her vet concluded euthanasia should be the course of action.
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Image: YouTube/The Dodo
However, the head of FAAS wouldn’t give up on Starfish so easily, and told the veterinarian as much. On April 28, 2018, animal news site the Dodo revealed the head of the organization’s reaction. Upon seeing the animal, this person reportedly said, “We’re going to get a second opinion, this is a different story.”
Image: YouTube/The Dodo
FAAS intended to find some way to save the puppy. To this end, the group took Starfish to an expert, who gave her rescuers the news they had hoped for. This second professional recognized the dog’s condition, and that it was potentially treatable.
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To be more specific, it was established that a condition known as swimmer puppy syndrome (SPS) afflicted Starfish. This birth defect affects the adductor muscles of a young dog’s legs, making them weaker than usual. As a consequence, the dog can only flounder or wiggle on the floor.

Image: YouTube/The Dodo
The sufferer’s legs are spread like a sea turtle’s flippers, hence the condition’s name. Even experts on the subject are unsure quite what causes SPS. Some think an infection carried by the newborn’s mother may be responsible.
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Image: YouTube/The Dodo
Despite Starfish’s syndrome, there was someone who fell in love with the her. A big-hearted woman called Leigh Anne Gray from California, near San Francisco Bay, saw the dog. And she couldn’t resist Starfish’s charms, later describing the moment they met to the Dodo.


Image: YouTube/The Dodo
“When I saw Starfish, I just attached so quickly,” Gray recalled. “You couldn’t pick her up like a normal puppy, you had to hold her sideways. She was flat like a pancake, but I just grabbed her and didn’t let her go.”
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Under advisement from FAAS, Gray signed her rescue puppy up for a rehabilitation regime. And even though the pupper “moved like a swimmer,” as Gray put it, her determination was inspirational. It was like Starfish was driven by a desire to be with her new family.

Image: YouTube/The Dodo
“All we had to do was to get her feet up underneath her,” Gray said of Starfish. “And as soon as we got her onto the grass and she had a little something to hold onto, she’d just follow us everywhere.” It appeared that Starfish’s recovery was literally and metaphorically gaining traction.
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Gray continued, “Starfish, herself, was so determined at every moment to do whatever she could.” The plucky pooch was the very definition of the word dogged. When she fell down, Starfish got right back up again, ready to give it another shot.

Image: YouTube/The Dodo
Take Starfish’s first try at going down a flight of Gray’s stairs, for example. “I mean, she practically tumbled down,” Gray told the Dodo. “But she still did it again five minutes later.” And with the pup’s indomitable spirit, her mommy deduced improvement was only a matter of time.
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Sure enough, Gray was correct – Starfish was walking just two months into her rehabilitation. But the pup wasn’t facing her fight alone. She certainly had a lot of people in her corner cheering her on, including her rescuers at FAAS who wanted to see their underdog succeed.
Image: YouTube/The Dodo
“[Starfish] had all these other people around her,” Gray explained. “[Including] the animal shelter folks who wanted to get her over to the rehab clinic, and those people knew what they were doing! She responded to everything that they taught her because she wanted it so bad.” However, the pup suffered a bit of a setback six months after she found her feet.
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Image: GoFundMe/Leigh Anne Gray
According to Starfish’s GoFundMe page, veterinarians discovered the determined dog suffered from serious hip dysplasia. She needed surgery to fix it, and the procedure – plus her subsequent care – would cost a whopping $10,000. Once again, though, FAAS was Starfish’s guardian angel.
Image: GoFundMe/Leigh Anne Gray
FAAS’s appropriately-named Angel Fund and Starfish’s GoFundMe page helped pay for the procedure. Gray reported the operation’s success on the crowdfunding site in October 2018. But since then, Starfish hasn’t had quite the same enthusiasm for walking.
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Image: YouTube/Leigh Anne Gray
In fact, the recovering dog has found she enjoys swimming more than standing on her feet. Not only is it apparently easier for her, but it’s good for her muscles, too. It seems like Starfish’s name is just as appropriate now as it ever was.

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